Non-specific Pain – A Reflection Again


18nov21 – this morning, I suddenly experienced mild to moderate sharp pain on my left hand. I was alarmed and asked myself – why and what caused this pain. I just waited and watched for what would follow. After 5 minutes, the pain subsided and eventually disappeared. It had not come back yet after 6 hours.

In my 69 years of life, I think I have experienced such sudden onset of pain in all parts of my body. After a stance of waiting and watching (wait and watch or observe and monitor or wait and see), the pain would just subside (some after a few seconds and few minutes, some after several hours and some after a few days) spontaneously without me taking any medicine, without me having to see a physician and have diagnostic tests done, and lastly, without me being able to identify the exact cause.

I think all persons have experienced such a phenomenon – sudden pain, spontaneously disappearing and without knowing the exact cause. This is a reality in life – a reality that we should be aware of and know what to do.

I have been looking for the medical term to use to diagnose such a phenomenon. I also have been looking for a scientific explanation for such a phenomenon. I am still searching up to now, particularly on the explanation.

For the moment, I use “nonspecific pain” or “transient nonspecific medical condition” as the medical term to use to diagnose such a phenomenon. There are reports on this term but it is not commonly used by physicians (majority of physicians are not aware of this – there is no emphasis in teaching on this phenomenon in medical school – thus, physicians usually look for specific cause and try to order a lot of diagnostic tests rather than rely on wait and watch.) As I said, there is no emphasis on the teaching of this phenomenon among physicians. There is no long treatise on this phenomenon if one searches the Net. There are scattered articles on “nonspecific chest pain;” “nonspecific low back pain;” “nonspecific neck pain;” “nonspecific abdominal pain;” etc. The general concept for this “nonspecific pain” is that there is a pain not attributable to a recognizable, known specific pathology and the pain usually regresses spontaneously.

As to the explanation, for the moment, I use “nerve irritation” for those experiencing nonspecific skin and soft tissue pain;
“strain” for those experiencing nonspecific muscular pain; and other terms that I would coin (as mentioned, I am still searching for a more scientific explanation) to connote there is most probably no serious conditions going on and the pain could be managed by wait and watch.

I have written on this topic in the past –…/diagnosis-cli…/…/transient-non…/

I hope to be able to expound on this phenomenon in the future with further research.

For the moment, I hope all physicians would pick this up (recognize this phenomenon, adopt or consider a wait and watch stance initially rather than order for a diagnostic test right away; etc.).

For the moment also, I hope all persons (potential patients) would also pick this up and recognize this phenomenon and know what to do and what to expect when physicians tell them they have nonspecific pain. Note: all persons should learn how to closely monitor their pain so that they know when it is time to seek medical consult already.

I will include this infosharing and advocacy on transient nonspecific medical condition as one of my legacies.


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